Great Places to Stay
- Holyrood Hotel
Travel writer Vivien Devlin had the opportunity to stay at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, which won the "Scottish Hotel of the Year" title within a year of opening in 1999. Here are her impressions of being a guest there.
It all sounds like extremely brilliant forward thinking and astute planning. No sooner than the decision was made to create the new Scottish Parliament building on Holyrood Road, just around the corner from the Palace, than Macdonald Hotels planned a new luxury hotel bang next door. The Holyrood Hotel opened in 1999, the same year that the Scottish Parliament was officially declared open and ready for business in temporary premises. The new multi-million pound purpose built legislature is slowly taking shape and is due to open in 2003.
The Holyrood is an impressive, slim high-rise coffee and cream coloured stone building with a city-centre location to die for. The hotel faces on to the green expanse of the Queen's Holyrood Park (perfect for a pre-breakfast jog), the Dynamic Earth, one of the most popular science centres in the UK, Holyrood Palace down the road and a short stroll up to the Royal Mile and the Castle.
City centre hotels have changed dramatically in recent years. It doesn't seem that long ago that guests would expect no more than standard amenities such as a private bathroom, television and perhaps tea and coffee facilities if you're lucky. The design of a Macdonald hotel bedroom caters for the leisure and business traveller and careful attention to detail ensures a high standard of furnishings and facilities including satellite TV, ironing board, trouser press as well as in specified business rooms, spacious desks, a fax, modem point, ISDN and voice mail.
There are 157 rooms at the Holyrood, designated single, double, family, executive and suites. In order to offer the highest level of service for those who demand a little extra attention is the Club floor (6th floor) at the top of the building where bedrooms have a superb view across to the summit of Arthur's Seat. Guests on the Club floor have a private lounge and library for breakfast and evening cocktails with a butler who will tend to your every need. My partner and I were very fortunate to be offered a Club room and we did enjoy the personal touch and a real sense of exclusivity. Although there was an iron and ironing board in the wardrobe I realised I now had staff to look after me! Arriving rather hot and bothered on a Friday evening, with our clothes now crumpled at the bottom of the suitcase, all that was required was a quick phone call and the butler arrived to take away our dinner attire for immediate pressing. Within fifteen minutes he had returned with an immaculately pressed silk shirt (not easy) and my little black dress.
Dining at the Holyrood Hotel
A relaxing bath, change and we're ready for dinner. The restaurant at the Holyrood is called Flints. The concept behind this lively and informal bistro is quite perfect. No jacket and tie required, casual, relaxing, attentive service, and superb international cuisine. A welcome idea is that the same Flints menu can also be served in your room if you wish to really chill out.
The food is of the highest quality and comparable to a fine dining restaurant. Start with Foie Gras with Truffle oil, if you wish to push the boat out, Thai style soup or a delicious wild rocket and scallop salad. For a main course the choice is extensive and impossible to choose - seafood, including Lobster ravioli, steamed mussels, a selection of pasta and risotto, Tandoori chicken or perhaps a T-bone steak. Vegetable accompaniments include all manner of salads, greens and the currently trendy and popular Mash, in various disguises and flavours. Service is personal and friendly by a young, international team. Any room for pudding? Choose from the perennial favourite, sticky toffee pudding, a chocolate tart, fruit salad or an excellent platter of cheese.
Before and after dinner you can sit with a drink and be entertained by the pianist in the comfortable and spacious lobby bar. Whenever you arrive in the hotel, just past reception is the welcoming bar, huge sink-into sofas and armchairs and a waiter just at your elbow offering a refreshment. The extensive airy space of the lobby lounge is unusual in many an Edinburgh hotel and provides the ideal meeting place for daytime coffee or evening cocktails, for guests and non-residents alike.
Spa and leisure Centre
The latest state-of-the-art sports and fitness facilities are also recognised as a necessary incentive in the best hotels of the 21st century and at the Holyrood there is a luxurious Spa and Fitness centre - Vital Health, Fitness and Beauty. The Vital concept has been created through the Wellness company and its unique microchip system, Technogym. The bio-medical equipment is based on the first wireless, interactive fitness software, which can create a personally-tailored computerised fitness programme for each guest. Training, exercise routine and achievement data can all be monitored to ensure the best workout. Individual screens and headphones offer personal entertainment as you jog.
A 14 metre indoor pool, sauna, steam room, solarium and gymnasium are all offered free of charge to guests so that they can keep fit during their stay, whether at the end of a hectic day of corporate meetings, shopping or touring the sights. And of course every good hotel now incorporates a beauty salon, no longer seen as luxurious but a popular and natural service in the way we care for the health and maintenance of our bodies.
Scottish Hotel of the Year
Within a year of opening The Holyrood Hotel was given the AA Award for Scottish Hotel of the Year and has quickly become renowned as one of Edinburgh's leading hotels for both the business and leisure traveller.
Edinburgh offers the perfect historical and dramatic backdrop for a wedding. The Holyrood Hotel has a civil license for the ceremony, a honeymoon suite and a dedicated Wedding co-ordinator to assist you with your plans.
The Macdonald Hotels is now one of the fastest growing hotel group in the United Kingdom. Over the past ten years it has enjoyed a steady upward curve in terms of financial investment, property acquisition and recognition across the UK as a quality brand name in the travel industry. From a select collection of fifty quality 3 and 4 star city and country-house hotels , Macdonald Hotels has now doubled in size with the take-over of Heritage Hotels (for a cool £235 million) and now manages over one hundred luxury 4-star hotels and resorts across the UK. The Headquarters remain at Bathgate, near Edinburgh and there are 18 hotels and resorts across Scotland, from Glasgow to Aberdeen and most places in between.
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